Cirrhosis of the liver, a condition characterised by hepatocyte regeneration, is also associated with elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance. In animal models hepatic regeneration is associated with increased IGFBP-1 gene expression. Insulin is known to be an inhibitor of IGFBP-1 gene expression and circulating insulin levels in man demonstrate a negative correlation with IGFBP-1 levels. To further our understanding of the regulation of IGFBP-1 in cirrhosis we have studied steady state levels of IGFBP-1 mRNA in human liver from three groups of patients: Group 1, tissue obtained at the time of harvesting donor liver for orthotopic liver transplantation (n=4); group 2, patients undergoing major liver resection with no histological evidence of chronic liver disease (n=4); and group 3, patients undergoing orthotopic transplantation for chronic liver failure (n=9). Simultaneous samples of serum were taken at the time of surgery in some patients and in these patients IGFBP-1 mRNA levels were related to circulating levels of IGFBP-1 and insulin.
IGFBP-1 mRNA was detectable in all the human liver samples with the greatest levels seen from the normal livers of group 2 patients. Insulin levels were elevated in the cirrhotic group 3 patients compared to a normal range as were IGFBP-1 levels. There was no relationship between circulating levels of IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-1 gene expression.
In conclusion, IGFBP-1 mRNA is present in human adult liver at the time of surgery and also in cirrhotic liver despite high levels of insulin suggesting that there are factors other than insulin regulating IGFBP-1 gene expression.
Journal of Endocrinology (1994) 141, 377–382